Thursday, July 28, 2011

Boo Hoo.

The emotions of this process have really messed with me.

I'm not an emotional person.  It takes a lot for me to cry.  I'm not sure why - I've just never been a cryer.

I've said it before & I'll say it again...this process has totally messed with me.  Because I've turned in to the sappiest, most emotional person.  I roll my eyes at myself a lot....I've turned in to one of 'those' people.

The beginning phases of this process kicked it off.  Just after committing to Carter, I was the most emotional.  Every song, every smile from one of my preschoolers, every verse I read...would bring me to tears.

Then the paperwork came on heavy.  I didn't have time to be emotional.  In fact, now that I look back, I didn't really even have time to think about Carter.  I feel awful saying that now - but I was in this GI Jane - get-it-done NOW mode.  My focus was on all those signatures - notaries - the benefit - and now...well...all of that is done.  And my focus has turned back to Carter.

I will probably be with Carter on my 27th birthday (September 30th!).  Amazing.

Of course, with my focus off of all the paperwork, and back on to what matters...the emotions are back.  In full force.

Just thought you'd like to know.


I've talked before on this blog about the people that we've met throughout this process.  It's really amazing. People who were total strangers 4 months ago, we now consider friends.  Friends of ours...and friends of Carter's.

Carter doesn't know it, but he has friends.  Lots of them.

Today, we got something in the mail from one of his friends.

Carter's First Backpack!!

Stacy - LOVE IT!  It's totally adorable...and it reminds us that we're so close to packing our bags and bringing that boy home.  Thank you for loving Carter.  Thanks for being his friend.


I had a post written.  Then I deleted it.  Then I rewrote it.  Then I deleted it again.

It stinks that not everyone embraces this.  People that we thought really loved us...but haven't offered one word of love or encouragement.  People that we thought cared about us...but haven't even asked us how the process is going.  Totally stinks.

What else that those people are so absorbed living their own lives, that they're not even reading this.  So my writing this serves no purpose then...right?  I guess.

Finding out who our true friends are.  It stinks.

That's the written-deleted-rewritten-deleted post in a nutshell.  I probably already gave it more space than it deserved.



Updated homestudy update....  :)

We've gotten a hold of the right people with our agency, and they're working on an addendum for our homestudy, which will also serve as a document that our USCIS case worker requested.  Two birds, people!  Love it when it works that way! on the lookout for the 'golden ticket' post!!  It shouldn't be long!!

One Thing I Know For Sure:  I was with the infants today.  I'm totally pooped (and may or may not be pooped on......).  And I have a shoot tonight (if the rain holds off!).  So I'm out of creative, catchy things to say.  This is all you get today :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Case Workers & New Homestudies

That's what's been on our plate lately.

We'll start with the homestudy.  Well - not really new - but updated.  With Carter's country passing some new laws, there is a slight change that needs to be made to our homestudy.  Really - it's not a big deal.  It's a pretty easy thing to change...that is, IF your homestudy agency responds to your multiple emails and phone calls.

Not too happy.  Funny how they're not so helpful after the last check is written.

So we're waiting on them.  Again.  I made it very clear that we're VERY close to sending everything to get apostilled, and I didn't want to be waiting for this piece.  Well...there has been no response from them at all.  None.

Yuck.  On to other stuff....

Our i600a was sent to the USCIS and was received on June 15th...our fingerprinting for the USCIS was on July 22nd...and we've been estimating about 50 days from the time our i600a was received until we get our golden ticket.'s been 42 days.

We emailed the website on our i600a receipt about a week ago, and got a very not nice email back...okay then.  We were told that we could not contact our case worker until 75 days after our stuff is received.

Well that's just silly.  This lady must not know that I know people who have done this.  Lots of people.  And they all contact their case worker.

As much as I wanted to - No, I did not respond to her ugliness.

Today, Jake decided to call and see about our case worker.

I know - he always tells me this...I should learn - a phone call is always better than an email.  Yes honey, you're right.

He talked to our case worker - she said our case is CLOSED!  She just needs 2 documents emailed to her (which happen to be already scanned and smiling at me right now on the computer desktop)...and then she said "I'll click, print, and send the Golden Ticket!".


Oh my word.

So by this time next week...we should have that piece of paper in our hands!!!

One Thing I Know For Sure: So that would be just about exactly 50 days then, wouldn't it?!  :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Odds & Ends...

A few odds & ends from the week...


Fingerprinting is was a total breeze.  Our appointment was for 11:00am - we got there at 10:30, and were back in the car by 10:55.  Then we thought....we're all the way here in Milwaukee, we might as well do something fun!  So we spent the rainy, dreary day walking around at the Milwaukee Public Museum.  It was so fun, just having nothing to do!!  But let me tell you...I'd love to get my hands on some of those exhibits!  That place could really use some updating.  A girl and her cricut could do amazing things there :)  (Have no idea what a cricut is?  Check it out here - it's a must for any paper craft crazy person....but, it also cuts vinyl, and even fondant for cake decorating!!).  Anyhow....back to our fingerprinting.  It's went well...and we're soooo done!!  Woo!


Realizing that we're done with all the paper mind has moved to other things.  I've been organizing like crazy...even though every item in our house is already in it's own place.  I just have this feeling of "I have to have a perfect home now - because once Carter comes home, it may never be perfect again..." or something like that.  I'm a little frantic with my cleaning lately.  I guess you could say I'm nesting.  Or being completely obsessive.  Take your pick.


We had the privilege of attending & photographing a really special event on Saturday.  Our dear sweet friends, Les & Linda Moore celebrated 40 years of marriage...and they had a beautiful vow renewal ceremony.

They've been at our church & a part of our family for a very short time.  But it feels like we've known them forever.  These are good, good people.  They love each other like crazy.  After 40 years, Linda still gets giggly when Les is around.

I can't even tell you how good they are to us.  They take care of us.  They love us.  They support us.  They are so, so good to us.  Being a part of the Pastor's Family - we need people like this.  These people are so special to us.

"All the glory goes to God" Les would say.  I can hear it now.

That's the kind of people they are.  Givers, not takers.  Supporters, not criticizers.  Friends.  No - family.  We really love these people.  And their celebration this weekend was such an encouragement to Jake & I.  We can see how they raised their kids to love God, how they nurtured their marriage in God's love, and how they serve God even today.  I guess it really is all about Him.

"All the glory goes to God"....I guess Les is right.

And of course, it wouldn't be a celebration without some dance floor fun...

Of course, the ymca :)
Too much fun!

Lee & Amy sure know how to have fun....LOVE it!!!


Alright.  That about wraps it up.  And I'm sure there's cleaning & organizing to be done somewhere.  I'm thinking Jake's sock drawer needs a re-vamp.

Who am I kidding...Jake doesn't even have a sock drawer.  I've got my work cut out for me.

One Thing I Know For Sure: After 40 years...I want to be giggly (no, not jiggly) when Jake walks in the room.....

Friday, July 22, 2011

More Benefit Photos...

I wanted to add a few more photos so you could see just how much fun we had!

Our registration & payment table

Sharon & Donna admiring the beautiful quilts!

Our super-fun DJ Scott!

Jake talking to Jeanne, a fellow adoptive mommy, and Jake's 2nd cousin!  She's got lots of good info to share!

Jesse - obviously doing something very important :)

Jesse consulting with us about that very important thing he's supposed to be doing...  

Rachel & Sarah & the craft table!

Yes - this is a live bunny.
He was auctioned off along with a hand crafted bunny hutch :)

Our auctioneers!  Not only did they help us raise all our money, but they were also SO entertaining!!

Me & my uncles admiring the cakes :)

Lee agreed to shave his head to raise money for Carter!

No - this is not the finished product :)

Thanks, Mikki, for taking these pictures!  I really appreciate all you did!

One Thing I Know For Sure: What a fun, fun, fun night....!

Black Ink!

Today we are traveling to Milwaukee to be fingerprinted!

No big deal - I know...

BUT - this is the LAST thing we have to do!

All of our paperwork is done.

Everything is notarized.

It's being faxed to Carter's country today.

And as soon as we get that Golden Ticket...we'll be officially sending his paperwork over to his country!

It won't be long...!

One Thing I Know For Sure: After 11:00am today, I can say we're DONE!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Until Every Dream Comes True....

Remember this post?  About the Prevost family?

Well in case you didn't catch this from my previous post about them - they're local.  They live in our area and we're blessed to have them in our life.  Not just cyber-friends that we'll never meet.

Ben & Juli came to our benefit the other night.  We were so blessed that they came.  We just love to include others in our journey...and they've been such an encouragement to us all along.

I wish I had video of their reaction when they walked up the stairs to our benefit.  

Tears.  Full of emotion.  Overjoyed.  Thrilled.  

I asked Juli if she was feeling a little bummed about their golf outing being cancelled.

She said "NO!  I'm just so, so happy for you guys.  This is amazing..."

I'm not sure if I would have had that reaction.  What a gem.

So a few weeks ago (before their outing was cancelled) Jake & I decided that we wanted to do something for them.  We didn't really know what that looked like, or how we would do it.  But we knew that something needed to be done for them.

We decided that auctioning off a piece of artwork during the live auction portion of our benefit would be a perfect way to draw awareness that there is another family in our small community who is adopting a boy with Down syndrome, and also bring in a fair amount of money.  

The print we chose was signed by Super Bowl I & II MVP - Bart Starr.  A Green Bay legend.  And this print was just signed a few weeks ago.  

Keep in mind - many of the people at this benefit know nothing about the Prevost's - just that they're adopting from China.

The auctioning began, and the print went for $480.  Wow.  We were amazed at the generosity of strangers.  

Yes - I'm sure part of it was that people really wanted this print!!  But I just know that people wanted to bless this sweet family.  

These strangers to Ben & Juli that bid on this print...well, these are the people we call our family.  These people are our dearest friends.  These people know how to give.  They know how to encourage.  They know how to love.  They get it.  They caught the vision.  Clearly.  

What an honor to have friends & family like this.  

And Ben & Juli?  They were a mess.  I mean that in the best way possible :)  I loved to see them crying like babies.  It was the highlight of my night.  The absolute highlight.  Nothing better than seeing someone else surprised by a blessing.  Love it.  


This benefit is part of the start of something really beautiful.  Not just helping to bring Carter home - but so much more.  Our plan, along with the Benefit Team at our church, is to continue this into a full-on ministry.  We know there are so many families that need help fundraising.  It's hard.  It stinks, most of the time.  We get that, because we've been there.  We have the resources, capability, and desire to help.  So that's what we'll do.  We know that an orphan care ministry will be hard work.  Really hard.  Almost as hard as youth ministries :) Because most people just don't understand the serious need.  

Carter will be the third boy with Down syndrome, adopted internationally - in our little church.  Caleb will make #4 for our small community.  To me - those are amazing numbers.  4 little boys, between the ages of 3 & 1.  Incredible, right?!  I know.  

I like visual reminders.  We have them all over our home.  I have framed art that says 'love is spoken here' and 'a smile is love in every language' and 'a day without laughter is a day wasted'...because we need visual reminders.  We have photo screen savers on our computer of all the people we love most.  We have cards in a basket on our fridge from 5 years ago that have encouraging words scribbled inside.  Because we need reminders.  

So as a reminder to us that this ministry is not in vain - and that this ministry is not about us - Jake came up with a perfect reminder.  A big beautiful vase - with the words "until every dream comes true..." etched on it.  When a child enters in to their forever family, that this ministry had the privilege of helping home, we will add a rose to the vase.  It will have a place of honor in our new church building (coming in the winter/spring!).  What a beautiful reminder to all of us.  So thankful for my husband's thoughtfulness and creativity!  

We have a vase in our home, too.  Lest we ever forget what it's all about.  

So far - the vase contains 2 roses.  One for Elijah, one for Jonathan.

And soon - very, very soon...there will be a rose for Carter Benjamin.  

And so shortly after that, there will be a rose for Caleb Aaron.  

Because we need reminders.  Reminders that 'until every dream comes true' we're going to keep working at the mission.  

One Thing I Know For Sure:  God has we'll obey.  Until every dream comes true.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Grand Total...

Yes - we're sharing our grand total from Friday's benefit on our blog.

At first, I wasn't going to.  It just didn't seem like the right place.

But then I thought - heck no!  God's gonna be glorified.  It's not about how much 'we' raised - it's about what God did.  It's about Him - and only Him.

So don't read this total, and think 'good job Jake & Ash!' or 'way to go, benefit team!' - it's not about us, or anything we did.

It's all about Him.

Do you know what that means?  We are fully funded.  100%.

And we are DONE fundraising!  Whew!

God is so still hasn't sunk in that He's provided everything for us.

We are COMING Carter!  Very soon!!

THANK YOU to each and every person that donated items - gave money - bid on items - donated time - each and every one of you have a stake in this.  You're all a part of Carter's journey.  THANK YOU for standing with us.


In other adoption news...we're finishing up our notarizing today, and we'll be faxing items to Carter's country to be approved tomorrow.  This is the LAST of the paperwork.  After more!  I can hardly believe it.  Since April, this has been our number one focus - getting this mountain of paperwork moved.  Well - now it's moved.  And we can breathe.

Very soon, we'll be sending all of this to get apostilled, and then - hopefully in a few weeks time - we'll be sending our dossier (all that paperwork) to Carter's country!!

This is all becoming so real.  My knees are knocking a bit, to be honest.  We were with Jill B. and her family the other day (Elijah & Jonathan's mommy)...and she was giving us her money belts (wait - we have to do WHAT with these?!) and her power converters & adapters, along with some Russian Language books and  This is really happening, people.  Wow.

One Thing I Know For Sure:  $21,046?  Never thought it was possible.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Carter Benjamin Benefit

Last night was quite a night.

I can't even tell you how blessed we are.  The donations that came in for our silent & live auctions blew me away.  I cannot believe what people were willing to give to help Carter.

Yes - this is the 'once-loved Brett Favre' being brought down by Clay Matthews.
Anyone in Packer Country knows this is quite an item!

This is a signed Bart Starr print - just signed last week!
The details of this print are for an entirely different post :)
Coming soon!

The people that were there were some of our favorite, most loved people.  What a joy to spend time with them, in the name of Carter!

Everything was perfect.  Totally perfect.  When we got home last night - we just kept saying "wow - I can't believe it.  I just can't believe it."  Fabulous.

And FUN!  Did we ever have fun.  Our people know how to do 'fun'.  They do it so well.  

Laughter really is a gift from God.  Good medicine, for sure.  

And our Benefit Team.  What a group of servants.  These people worked tirelessly to make this event what it was.  We could not - would not - have done this without them.  During the event - everyone just did what they needed to do.  Yes - they could have stood around and had fun with everyone else.  But they worked.  We are so blessed.


What a night.  God showed up.  We have no idea how much money was raised - we'll find that out tomorrow.  But even without knowing any 'totals' - we know that God was there.  Hearts were touched. Everywhere we looked, people were crying.  Emotional.  In awe of what God was doing.  Grown men, crying like babies when Jill B. explained the dire need of these orphans to find families.  

God showed up.  He was there.  We felt Him.  We knew it.  Undeniable.  

So - to our families and're amazing.  We love you like crazy.  THANK YOU for standing with us.  Thank you for supporting us.  Thank you for choosing to walk this road with us.  

Thank you for loving Carter.  

Carter.  I wonder what he was doing last night?  I wonder if he could feel a sweet tingling as we were celebrating his life.  I wonder if he felt something different last night.  Is it possible that all that love could cross the ocean, and reach him?  

I don't know.  It sounds silly when said out loud.  

But I DO know that there was so much love in that room last night.  All for Carter.

We're blessed.  Thank you Lord for our friends and family.  
Where would we be without them?! 

One Thing I Know For Sure:  Can't wait until Carter understands all of this, and we can say "Look, little child.  Look how incredibly loved you are..."

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